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McGregor hunting down first Fish K1 title
- Updated: September 17, 2014
Triple world champion Hank McGregor has his sights firmly set on winning the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon K1 title on 10-11 October, a title that has somehow managed to elude the most successful river paddler South Africa has ever produced.
McGregor will first have to fly to Oklahoma City for the defence of his K1 World crown before returning home to prepare for the Hansa Fish two weeks later with it clear that he places massive importance on adding the Fish K1 crown to his illustrious CV.
‘I am super excited for the Fish this year. This K1 title has been in the back of my mind for a while now. I have arranged a really competitive boat for the race, so this might be my year,” said McGregor.
‘You know what you are going to get at Marathon Worlds. Its like a bunch of gladiators being thrown into a pit together. But at the Fish, you never know what is going to happen which makes it really exciting.
‘You can prepare well, do all your homework and can still have a stormer or a pear,’ he added. ‘There are just so many variables.’
McGregor has won five back-to-back Hansa Fish K2 titles – one with K1 ‘Fisher King’ Len Jenkins and four with fellow K2 defending champ Grant van der Walt – but has yet to have his name engraved on the K1 trophy.
Two years ago McGregor was locked in a ferocious tussle with Jenkins and looked to be in a position to finally end his string of second places in the K1 race. The pair shot the daunting Cradock Weir dangerously side by side and Jenkins managed to get a slim lead to race away to claim the title.
‘That was my best chance ever to win the K1 Fish, and it turned out to be my closest loss,’ recalls McGregor. ‘I felt that I had it in the bag but a lapse in concentration cost me big time.’
‘It doesn’t matter if the Hansa Fish is hosting SA River Champs or not, it is still the title that every paddler wants to win. I am actually quite irritated that I haven’t been able to win it!” said McGregor. “I have been second in the K1 Fish too many times for my liking.’
He will start as the hot favourite to end that run of bridesmaid placings in the K1 race, particularly as defending K1 champ Jenkins has taken time off from paddling and is unlikely to be a factor in the title race this year.
‘I would prefer it if Len was there and in good shape, because you want to win the Fish against a field of all the best guys in the country,’ admitted McGregor.
McGregor will spearhead the South African challenge at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in the USA on 27-28 September before jetting home for the Fish title challenge, and is determined to minimise the impact of the long distance travel.
‘As I have grown older I have become better at traveling,’ said McGregor. ‘I get sick less and that makes it more feasible to get back in good shape for the Fish.
‘I just have to get through Worlds and then I can focus on the Fish!,’ he summed up, hinting at the importance of his Fish K1 title bid.
McGregor says that the trip to Cradock for the Hansa Fish was one that he is looking forward to as he has planned a road trip with his wife Pippa and newborn son Thor.
Picture: Jetline Action Photo/ Gameplan Media